ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Busch's here hopes to enhance its whole health program this month when it rolls out an updated version of the M-Fit shelf-labeling program, supplied the University of Michigan Health System.
M-Fit has partnered with BeeLine Shopper, Troy, Ohio, to provide a larger database of products that separates over 50,000 food items into three tiers -- "best choice," "acceptable choice" and "occasional choice," said Busch's director of marketing, Peggy Conlin. By combining the price label and the M-Fit label on the shelves, she said it will result in less shopper confusion.
"It's important to supply as much nutritional information from a reliable source as possible, and it's an extremely valuable tool for a busy shopper," said Conlin. She said Busch's piloted the M-Fit program seven or eight years ago.
Leib Lurie, president of BeeLine Shopper, agreed. "The best, acceptable and occasional indicators make it easy for consumers to identify healthier [food] choices." Lurie said that BeeLine provides a data file for the grocers to use in creating their own shelf labels. According to Lurie, BeeLine has licensed from the University of Michigan the M-Fit food criteria, which groups foods into dozens of categories, and identifies best, acceptable and occasional choices within these categories based on product label Nutri-facts. The easily identifiable shelf labels enable the customer to make fast, healthier meal choices without having to read the food labels -- a time-consuming task, he said.
Retailers using the system can reduce their time and labor costs by using only one label. The store also looks less cluttered, Lurie pointed out.
The upgrade on the label system may also include a different symbol than the existing green triangle for best choice or yellow triangle for acceptable choice, according to Holly Noble, coordinator of M-Fit's supermarket program and registered dietitian.
"Not all supermarkets print their labels in color, so they will need a new system," she said. One possible choice would be the apple system, depicting two apples for best choice and one apple for acceptable choice, although she did not confirm the new symbols.
Noble said, "Supermarkets want to be a place where consumers can go to have resources related to their health, and this is a way they can do that. By benefiting the customer, it makes the customer want to come back again."